Thursday, September 2, 2010

Do You Believe In Ghosts?

SHADOW POINT is a ghost story. Do you believe in ghosts? I don’t. Or do I...

For about five heart-stopping seconds one dark night, I did believe in ghosts. This was back in college, when I was attending a tiny private women’s college in a tiny Midwestern town. For reasons I no longer remember, our mission that evening was to break into the music building and do something on the third floor without turning on any of the lights. Or maybe the power was out - that happened a lot. Why we were focused on hijinks rather than homework also escapes me, except that we often were. (Let the record show I did graduate, though!) Anyhow, this college was established in 1885, and the music building, as I recall, was the oldest surviving structure on campus. It was said that it had originally been a dorm. It was also said that, long ago, a girl had died in a fire in her dorm room there and that her ghost still haunted the building. She, the college ghost, was called Vera.

I saw a lot of strange things at that women’s college, but I had never seen Vera, despite the fact that I was a music major and spent a lot of late nights practicing in the haunted (?) music building. It was an old and creaky building - eminently suitable for a ghost. Without the lights on, it was pitch black in there the night we broke in and more than a little creepy. (I think we actually crawled in through a slightly open first floor window, so there was no property damage) (that night)

Anyhoo, we were blundering about on the third floor, having made our way up the pitch black stairs and down the pitch black hall. We turned into a pitch black parlor, with me leading the way due to my familiarity with the layout. I sensed, rather than saw, that we had reached the parlor, more by a change in the air than by any ambient light from the windows.

I was leading my cohorts towards my favorite practice room - one of the old dormitory bedrooms which surrounded the parlor - when I caught a glimpse of something out of the corner of my eye. My heart stopped. I gasped. I froze. A pale, moon-faced figure slowly rose out of the darkness of the open doorway of one of the other rooms. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, yet I knew it was her. Vera.

Then she spoke. “Oh, hi, Amy!” she said.

It wasn’t Vera. It was Rhonda Lou Flugelmeyer, one of the freshmen and a fellow music major. What the hell she was doing up there, I’m not sure, but she just about gave me a heart attack.

So no, I can’t say I’ve ever seen a ghost. Strange things do happen, though... SHADOW POINT may not make you believe in ghosts, but it might make you think about the power of family. And how that power can be used for good or evil. Which is a whole lot scarier than ghosts, come to think of it. Or even Rhonda Lou Flugelmeyer.

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